Whether a customer or coworker committed the assault, being physically attacked, hit, beaten, pushed, or having someone throw something at you is always frightening. There are even horror stories of employees getting fired for protecting themselves or even retaliating verbally, so what can you do? If someone attacked you or you are afraid you one day might be, here’s what to do if you’re physically assaulted at work.
Remain Calm, Get Somewhere Safe, and Call the Police
No matter what the attack consists of or who the assailant is, your first task is to get somewhere safe where you can lock the door and escape the assault. For some, this isn’t easy, as our first response is often to protect ourselves or even fight back. The longer you stay in the situation, the more likely you are to get hurt. If you fight back against a customer or client, your employer may take disciplinary action against you, so they don’t have to deal with liability issues.
To protect yourself and your status as an employee, it’s best to separate yourself from the situation as quickly as possible and contact law enforcement. Even if the assailant is no longer in the area, filing a police report can help catch that person later and is vital evidence. If you’re injured, have any physical marks, or have gotten hit in some way, obtain medical care even if the injuries aren’t severe. A medical report is another invaluable piece of evidence that can help later if you decide to press charges.
File an Incident Report and Gather Witnesses
You want to create as detailed a report and recording of the incident as possible, so your next step is to file an incident report with your employer. If your employer was the perpetrator, you would file with their supervisor. Not only does this create a record of the event, but how they react and the disciplinary measures they take can tell you a lot. A lack of response to harmful, dangerous, threatening, or toxic behaviors is a sign that you’re in a hostile work environment, and it may be worth looking into getting another job.
It’s also wise to start collecting the contact information of anyone present during the incident. This is especially true if your job doesn’t have security cameras or won’t give you access to the footage. Again, the purpose here is to get a clear, detailed record of the event that other people can corroborate. If you can do so as soon as the attack is over, do so, as the recollection of events can fade over time.
Protect Yourself and Get a Lawyer ASAP
The most important thing to do if you’ve been physically assaulted at work is to get legal representation as soon as possible. Even if you don’t plan to sue the assailant, you may still face disciplinary actions, or your employer may terminate you. Additionally, if you need help paying for medical care expenses or recovering lost wages, a lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.